Upper Sixth Theatre Trip to Sheffield
6 Oct 2011
Recently, the Upper Sixth English students journeyed a fair distance to Sheffield to watch Othello at the Crucible Theatre
On entering the Theatre, the thrust stage created an immediate impact and as the play commenced it became evident that it allowed for a sense of intimacy between the performers and the audience.
Dominic West’s Yorkshire accent effectively portrayed the devious villain, Iago. It had the ability to capture people’s attention to the point where even the audience almost become a victim of his deception. As a result, it seems more realistic that Othello never questions Iago’s loyalty to him, allowing the tragic events to so easily arise. Yet skilfully, dramatic irony is never lost, resulting in knowing laughter from the audience in the first acts. If there was to be any criticism of West’s excellent portrayal of Iago, it could be argued that he lacked a streak of pure evil and in some ways played a role more resembling a pantomime villain, rather than the character regarded as Shakespeare’s most evil creation. Clarke Peters as Othello effectively demands the attention of the audience, initially as a noble and well respected man. The African accent he adopts is a continuous reminder of prejudices he faces throughout the play and his gruff tone is effectively contrasted to the beautiful ‘Othello music’ he speaks. However, there were times during his longer speeches when certain words were lost due to unclear diction.
Whilst slightly melodramatic at times, the part of Desdemona, played by Lily James, suitably depicted her virtuous and naïve nature. The initial affection between herself and Othello was convincing, as James effectively portrayed Desdemona’s youthful innocence causing her to passionately fall in love with the valiant Othello. Alexandra Gilbreath as Emelia has a vital role in the final act where she very successfully plays Iago’s guilt ridden and distraught wife, after being made aware of the consequences of Iago’s scheming. Brodie Ross depicted Roderigo as appropriately dim and proved to be an entertaining character when led so easily astray by Iago.
Lighting was used suitably to enhance the changing mood throughout the play. There was a sense of simplicity in the staging arrangement and the lack of props which created a greater focus on the plot and the characters themselves as well as the traditional costume worn. The large bed centered in the middle of the stage for the final death scenes worked effectively to achieve a heightened sense of injustice and horror; an atmosphere that hangs in the Theatre as the play comes to a close.